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2006 San Diego Padres Baseball Preview

San Diego Padres Predictions – NL WEST

OVERVIEW:

The Padres won the NL West with an unspectacular 82-80 record. The second place team, Arizona, was 77-85. Although not in a stellar division, San Diego is surrounded by teams that, even if they got a little better, could threaten their first-place status. They decided to make some improvements during the winter.

PITCHING:

To backup their ace, Jake Peavy, the Padres secured a second and fifth starter—Chris Young and Shawn Estes respectively. Young (12-7, 4.26 ERA) should prove to be a fine second starter. Estes (7-8, 4.80 ERA), a fly ball pitcher, will be a good match with the Padre’s spacious ballpark.

Peavy (13-7, 2.88 ERA) throws a deceptive changeup, plus three other pitches. The main concern with him is his delivery in which he throws across his body, putting strain on his arm. He’s already seen some wear and tear from his delivery.

Woody Williams (9-12, 4.85 ERA) has lost some of his stuff but can adjust. Chan Ho Park continues his decline in speed and is inconsistent with each start. He can be effective when he’s on.

Closer Trevor Hoffman (43 SV, 2.97 ERA) has also seen a reduction in power, but he’s been able to change, exploiting his technique and skill.

HITTING:

Even with additions, this is not a very good hitting team. Brian Giles (.301 BA, 15 HR, 83 RBI, 119 BB, 64 SO) is the best they’ve got. After a year of adjustment, he looks ready to put up bigger numbers, especially in round trippers.

Fourth hitter, Ryan Klesko (.248 BA, 18 HR, 58 RBI), who’s had a plague of back problems, has seen his numbers diminish. The Padres’ number four hitter must find his health in order to become a potent force.

They were 12th in hitting in 2005; don’t expect much improvement this year.

DEFENSE:

With 109 errors and a .982 fielding percentage, San Diego finished 13th in the fielding in the league.

Khalil Greene is a quick, sound shortstop with good range, while Vinny Castilla can still play third, despite his age. Second baseman Mark Bellhorn is a stiff fielder and at first Ryan Klesko may be able to play adequately.

The outfield is sound but certainly aging. This team needs a youth movement.

MANAGER AND FRONT OFFICE:

• GM Kevin Towers has a new best buddy (whether he wants one or not)—CEO Sandy Alderson.
• Bruce Bochy, who works well with Alderson, has been at the San Diego helm for a dozen years, guiding them to three NL West Division titles.
• Bochy dealt well with a rash of injuries last season.

INTANGIBLES AND/OR OTHER STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES:

• They haven’t changed a lot since last year—will this jeopardize their ability to win?
• Health issues may plague many starters and position players.
• Petco Park has shortened right field by 11 feet—think there will be more homers?

CONCLUSION:

This ball club has made some changes in the lineup that may raise averages but not by that much. Pitcher Jake Peavy will hopefully show more development, while Mike Cameron and Vinny Castilla may bring more power to the team. First place again? That’s a big “maybe.”

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